Combating the winter blues

Jordan Dutton | Minute Read

Mind Health, Wellness

With the cool change in weather and the arrival of Halloween season, fall sets in and soon comes the rain.  We know (at least in Vancouver) that the hibernation and S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is looming. This past winter was one of the coldest, gloomiest and rainiest Vancouver has experienced in history, not to mention the severity of the cold and flu strains that attacked each person multiple times over the winter. Migrating over from Arizona last September, my first winter here was a rough one and I intend to prevent as much S.A.D. as possible this year. With summer ending, the shift in weather is beginning to manifest as changes in energy levels, mood and motivation in most of my patients. How can we put ourselves in the best possible position to weather the winter blues?

It starts with finding balance.  Soak up the dry and sunny days that fall has left to offer. Decrease your alcohol consumption (a powerful depressant) and check in on your fitness level. Are you where you want to be? It’s time to establish that work out routine and form healthy habits. If you can get into a healthy work out routine now, you are more likely to stick with it throughout the winter, even on those rainy days. Remember, it takes 21 days to change a habit!

Nutrition: adapting your diet to the seasons, eating local and what’s in season can help you adapt to the changing temperatures and weather. Raw foods tend to digest better in warm weather, whereas cooked easily digestible foods tend to be better in the winter. Fall squash is out and for another two weeks the farmers markets are stocked with hearty stewing material!

Supplements: Vitamin D (4000 IU’s is a safe maintenance dose throughout the winter). Your ND can walk you through what other nutrients will best support you through the winter.

Sunlight: Create good boundaries with lights. There are great high full spectrum therapy lights you can purchase to turn on early in the mornings and start your day out with a blast of light. They can be placed in your office where light may be low due to dark weather and it’s possible to artificially create an environment in which our body maintains happy circadian rhythms. Personally, I turn on my Flamingo light by Northern Lights every morning while i get ready in order to boost my wakefulness. Mood changes in relation to weather patterns have been studied at length and concluded that the relationship is complex due to the irregularity of weather patterns and pressure changes on mood. Knowing this, we must brace ourselves for the unexpected this winter.